Thursday, June 19, 2014

Game of the Day (6/18/14)

Dodgers 8, Rockies 0. LA's Clayton Kershaw taking on Colorado's Jorge de la Rosa.
The Dodgers scored all eight of their runs early - two walks, a bad pickoff throw, a sacrifice fly and a single produced a pair of runs in the first, three walks and three doubles (not entirely in that order) brought five runs across in the third, and a single, a double, and another single tacked one on in the fourth. After that, the Rockies pulled de la Rosa, and their bullpen was good, allowing only three hits over the remaining 5.2 innings.

That is, of course, three more hits than Kershaw allowed all game, which is why this utter thumping was the Game of the Day in the first place.

This game gets to the heart of why my no-hitter bonus is as small as it is (although it's enough to put this contest ahead of a fairly weak slate of games). Yes, no-hitters are tremendous, incomparable viewing experiences... half of the time. And then, the other team bats, and nobody cares what happens at all because they're already ahead by (in this case) eight runs.

Put it this way - if it hadn't been a no-hitter, this game would have been one of the five least-dramatic games of 2014 so far. Is the no-hitter on its own enough to vault it higher into the stratosphere of the ratings?

Well, maybe. We're talking about excitement, after all; it's an inherently subjective quality and you can evaluate it how you want. But I'm not comfortable putting this game ahead of, say, the Reds-Pirates game from the evening before, which kept your attention when both teams were batting.

All of this is, of course, rather immaterial to the actual content of the game. Kershaw's no-hitter puts him on perhaps the best pitching pace of his career, depending on how you look at it. So far this year, he has thrown 64.1 innings, struck out 86 hitters, and walked eight. Eight! His ERA is 2.52, which is excellent - and he's significantly underperforming his peripherals, as his FIP is an absurd 1.60, which should not be allowed. It's also his eighth career shutout, which ties him for tenth among active pitchers... which is just incredibly depressing. (B-R lists six active pitchers with 10 or more shutouts; that total includes the "active" Johan Santana, who hasn't pitched in two years. The leader is Tim Hudson, with 13. Speaking of 13, that's now Kershaw's complete game total, which ties him for 21st among guys who are still pitching.)

So, to sum up: Clayton Kershaw is outstanding at pitching and as a result he did a cool pitching thing where he allowed no hits for an entire game, which was exciting for both Kershaw himself and those in attendance.

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